Most medicines may prescribe a certain “dosage”, but they may also indicate a time of day to take the medicine. Sometimes the drug may need to be taken on an empty stomach, or with food, or with other considerations with other drugs or activities.
In that way, we must consider what the best time of day to do red light therapy? Are there certain times of days that are more beneficial, or even doing red light therapy relative to other activities may help optimize the effectiveness of the therapy?
What we will review:
- Mechanisms of action during any time of day.
- Morning and Evening exposure for evolutionary timing.
- Strategic timing of Red/NIR for performance boosts.
- Optimal timing around cryotherapy and sauna.
- Optimizing sleep and circadian rhythms with proper red light timing.
As always, there are many different perspectives we can take and appreciate certain nuances about red light therapy and our chronobiology.
1. Can we do Red Light Therapy anytime?
Most of the cellular mechanisms for photobiomodulation appear to be independent of timing.
For example, absorption into CCO, dissociation of NO, producing EZ water, and up-regulating ATP production all do not have any particular circadian cycle that would affect red light therapy effectiveness.
As far as we can find, most studies of red light therapy do not even take note of the timing or time of day. We might presume they are conducted in clinics during normal business hours.
Thus we can safely assume that we can do red light therapy nearly any time of day for most applications. So as much as we want to get into the nitty-gritty of the “optimal” timing, don’t let that stop you from using red light therapy when it is most convenient for you.
2. Evolutionary Sunlight Timing for Red Light Therapy
We know that sunlight delivers proportionally more Red/NIR during the early morning or evening closer to sunrise and sunset.
One study even notes that from an evolutionary standpoint we may assume our cellular circadian mechanisms would be preferentially tuned to receiving red and NIR light in the mornings and evenings. 
That same study refers to red light therapy in the morning as"PBM Pre-Conditioning" and evening as "PBM-Repair".  Which might indicate that photobiomodulation is beneficial in the mornings to help prevent damage during the day, and in the evenings that repair the damage that has taken place during the day.
Additionally, recent research showed that benefits for the eyes with red light therapy were only obtained by treatment in the morning. Treatment later in the day produced no results. (2)
Another recent study conducted on flys with 670nm light found that the timing of the light therapy between 8am to 11am showed the biggest improvement in ATP production. Where dosing in the afternoon and evening there was no significant change from normal ATP cycles. (7)
One study used full-body red light therapy in the evenings and showed an improvement in sleep.(3)
3. Strategic Timing of Red Light Therapy
One study indicated the best time to do red light therapy before athletic performance or fitness training is 3-6 hours before the event. This is because the peak of ATP production comes 3-6 hours after treatment and they showed muscle performance increases by 300-600%! The benefit can come as soon as 40-60 minutes after irradiation as well. (4)
Similarly, the same study notes that long-term studies with athletic training programs also do well with red light therapy after the workout.(4)
Another study showed that transcranial photobiomodulation before an activity could reduce the strain of the brain while conducting challenging cognitive tasks. (5)
Thus, we can conclude from this section that we should do red light therapy before any strenuous physical or mental activity to boost performance, and perhaps ideally between 3-6 hours after treatment to give us the biggest ATP boost in that window.
4. Keeping Cool for Red Light Therapy
Applying ice or cryotherapy before red light therapy treatments has been shown to improve skin penetration of the treatment. (6)
This is likely due to the cryotherapy effects to draw away circulation, reduce blood vessels, and overall make the skin thinner and more transparent. Which we know by understanding the skin optics is very important for penetration and effectiveness.
Conversely, too high of skin temperature may increase blood flow and change tissue optics in a way that hinders photobiomodulation penetration and treatment.
Thus, this answers two big questions for “stacking” our red light therapy with other health activities.
- Cryotherapy, icing, cold showers, and cold plunges should be done before red light therapy to help optimize the penetration of the light.
- Red Light Therapy should be done before sauna sessions while the skin is still relatively cool.
5. Bright Red Light Therapy and Circadian Rhythms
Not directly a photobiomodulation effect, but still a major part of Red Light Therapy devices that is often overlooked is the effects on circadian rhythms.
- Early morning exposure of the face and eyes to bright light therapy, even bright red lights, may help increase wakefulness and alertness in the mornings and subsequently improve sleep at night.
- Conversely, bright lights (even red light) at night will reduce melatonin production and could negatively affect sleep or keep us too stimulated at night.
So it can be quite beneficial to do facial/eye treatments with red light therapy in the mornings, not only for the anti-aging benefits, but also getting bright light therapy benefits in the morning as well.
When we look at all of the factors mentioned above, we might assume that doing red light therapy in the mornings may be the optimal time of day!
- Morning treatments help simulate the evolutionary sunrise and cellular pre-conditioning.
- Doing red light therapy in the mornings will give us an ATP boost 3-6 hours later to help us improve physical and mental performance for the inevitable challenges we will face during the day.
- Our body temperature is still relatively cool in the morning to allow for good penetration, and a cold shower in the morning before red light therapy can enhance this further.
- Treatments for eye health specifically found it was more beneficial for the eyes in the mornings, not later in the day. As well as studies on flies showed significant improvement when treating in the mornings between 8am-11am.
- Morning treatments for the face and eyes (being mindful of intensity) act as a type of bright light therapy that can help with wakefulness, alertness during the day and help with sleep and circadian rhythms at night.
- We can also appreciate some anti-aging benefits while getting the bright red light therapy on the face in the mornings, where treating the face in the evening could be too stimulating and stunt melatonin production.
Red light therapy treatment in the evenings is also nearly equally as optimal, as it also helps simulate sunset as well as boosts repair mechanisms from the day. However, we should be mindful that bright red lights at night could be stimulating and adversely affect melatonin and sleep. Some people might want to experiment with treatments in the evenings, as everyone responds differently if it helps sleep or harms it.
There is plenty of evidence for red light therapy to be very effective any time of day. We find that truly the “best” time of day is to find what time is convenient for you to do consistent doses, even if not in the mornings or evenings.
The difference between getting benefits from red light therapy vs “optimal” benefits is usually marginal. So, if you can’t fit red light therapy in the mornings or evenings, don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits in a different part of the day.
As always, these tips can give you guidance on how to optimize your routines, but ultimately you must experiment and find what fits best into your lifestyle.
Barolet D, Christiaens F, Hamblin MR. Infrared and Skin: Friend or Foe. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2016.
Harpreet Shinhmar, Chris Hogg, Magella Neveu, Glen Jeffery. Weeklong improved colour contrasts sensitivity after single 670nm exposures associated with enhanced mitochondrial function. Scientific Reports, 2021; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-02311-1
Zhao J, Tian Y, Nie J, Xu J, Liu D. Red light and the sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players.J Athl Train. 2012;47(6):673-678. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-47.6.08
Ferraresi, Cleber et al. “Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance?.” Journal of biophotonics vol. 9,11-12 (2016): 1273-1299. doi:10.1002/jbio.201600176
Chan, A.S., Lee, Tl., Hamblin, M.R. et al. Photoneuromodulation makes a difficult cognitive task less arduous. Sci Rep 11, 13688 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93228-2
Sturla Haslerud, Ingvill Fjell Naterstad, Jan Magnus Bjordal, Rodrigo Alvaro Brandão Lopes-Martins, Liv Heide Magnussen, Patrícia Sardinha Leonardo, Ricardo Henrique Marques, and Jon Joensen.Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.Oct 2017.567-575.http://doi.org/10.1089/pho.2017.4269
Shinhmar H, Hoh Kam J, Mitrofanis J, Hogg C, Jeffery G. Shifting patterns of cellular energy production (ATP) over the day and key timings for the effect of optical manipulation. J Biophotonics. 2022 Jul 20:e202200093. doi: 10.1002/jbio.202200093. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35860879.
Disclaimer: All information in this article and website are intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any ailment. Please consult with your doctor or trusted wellness practitioner before starting any new health activity including Red Light Therapy.
The most optimal time for a light therapy session is morning or evening around the time of sunrise or sunset. This mimics the time of day when we receive the most red and near-infrared light from the natural sun.Is red light therapy better at night or morning? ›
Artificial blue light from phones, computers, and other screens is extremely bright and can knock your circadian rhythm out of whack. Red light has the opposite effect: it's ideal for evenings because it has a low color temperature—far lower than blue light and much closer to the natural sunset.How do you get the best results with red light therapy? ›
How often should you use red light therapy on your face? We recommend doing at least a 5-minute treatment daily to get maximum results. People who use it diligently for 4 to 6 weeks see more pronounced results.Should you use red light therapy in the morning? ›
Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a pioneering new study.Should you use red light therapy before bed? ›
Generally speaking, red light at night doesn't seem to interfere with sleep like blue light does. In fact, it may actually improve your sleep. While more research is needed, the current evidence seems to indicate that red light at night doesn't disturb sleep.What should I put on my face before red light therapy? ›
Salicylic Acid & BHAs
Salicylic acids and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) penetrate deep into the skin to clear clogged pores, reduce inflammation, and loosen and exfoliate dead skin cells. Treatments containing salicylic acid and BHAs work well with red light therapy.
Red light has no effect on the circadian clock, so you can use a dim red light at night. Yellow and orange light have little effect on the clock so you can use a very dim yellow or orange light at night.Does red light Help knees? ›
Red light therapy has been proven to reduce joint pain and improve range of motion by reducing inflammation and stimulating healing within the joint, especially the knee joint.How long should you use red light therapy on your face? ›
You may need a treatment each week for about a month. Then you might need maintenance treatments every month or every few months. Some at-home devices may also require a substantial time commitment. You might need to use your device twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes for four to five weeks.Does red light therapy tighten loose skin? ›
Red light therapy may work in skin health to: Stimulate collagen production, which gives skin its structure, strength and elasticity.
Red light therapy starts to work immediately, and the results only get better with each session. Improvement for long-term problems is usually noticeable after 8 to 12 weeks of consistent use. As with other treatments, the results of red light therapy are long-lasting, but they are not permanent.Can you overdo red light therapy? ›
Red light therapy is generally considered safe, even though researchers aren't exactly sure how and why it works. And there are no set rules on how much light to use. Too much light may damage skin tissue, but too little might not work as well.Can red light therapy reverse GREY hair? ›
It seems that Red Light Therapy is most effective at preventing further loss, not reversing existing grey hair. That being said, the benefits of using this treatment far outweigh any potential side effects.How long does it take for red light therapy to work on wrinkles? ›
It may not be instant but after each day, you and other people will notice the difference in your skin. In clinical studies, it takes at least 4-6 weeks to see visible results. Be patient. Your body is doing its work to reverse the hands of time.Do you need to wear goggles when using red light therapy? ›
A: It is not required that you wear eye protection, nevertheless the lights are very bright and may be uncomfortable for some individuals with sensitivities to light.When is the best time to use light therapy? ›
Start light therapy in the early morning, as soon as possible after awakening (between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.). Response usually starts in a few days, and by two weeks the symptoms should be definitely improving. Most people need to continue light therapy throughout the winter until the springtime.How long does it take for light therapy to work? ›
Many people experience some benefits from light therapy within a few days. Symptoms of depression should improve in about 2 weeks. If they do not, you can increase your time in front of a 10,000 lux lamp to 60 minutes per day. If this does not work, you can reach out to a doctor for advice.Does red light damage eyes? ›
Red lights can help prevent damage to mitochondria in the retina, which leads to declining eyesight. (CNN) It will be as easy as brushing your teeth or shaving, and as long as future studies support it, it just might save your eyesight.Do you moisturise before light therapy? ›
Don't put on lotion or moisturizer for 24 hours before each treatment. For each treatment, you will need: Protective goggles. You will get these from the company that supplies your phototherapy machine.Should you moisturise before light therapy? ›
The moisturizer should also be applied before your treatment to improve the effect of light on your skin.
Then, What to Do? Low levels of infrared light waves applied to the chin's skin can achieve excellent results and help you lose a double chin. Applying heat to the deeper layers of the skin while keeping the upper layers cool appears to trigger the skin's ability to renew the collagen beneath the skin's surface layers.What are the dangers of red light therapy? ›
Even though this type of treatment is generally very safe, negative effects may occur. As a consequence of light therapy, patients can complain of irritability, headaches, eye strain, sleep disturbances, and insomnia. Mild visual side effects are not unusual but remit promptly.How does red light affect the brain? ›
The red and near-infrared light photons penetrate through the skull and into brain cells and spur the mitochondria to produce more ATP. That can mean clearer, sharper thinking, says Naeser.Why does the military use red lights at night? ›
In essence, concealability and stealth are more guaranteed with red light. This is especially important when a military member has to stop somewhere to read a map or set a stakeout at night. The red light allows him or her to continue the duty or navigate with minimal chance of being seen.Can red light therapy be used on neck? ›
As a result, red light therapy can help with a number of conditions, including back and neck pain, bursitis, tendinitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tension headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, alopecia (by promoting hair regrowth), and chronic pain.Does red light therapy help with inflammation? ›
Natural light therapy & inflammation treatment: Red light therapy alleviates chronic inflammation by increasing blood flow to the damaged tissues, and it's been found in numerous clinical trials to increase the body's antioxidant defenses.Can red light therapy reverse arthritis? ›
Alternative Treatment Option: Red Light Therapy
As you can see from the research, infrared light therapy or low-level light therapy as it is also called can be an effective alternative treatment to heal the cause of the arthritis symptoms and not just the symptoms themselves.
Every individual may respond differently to specific treatments and results will also depend on the goal you want to achieve. However, with daily use, you should be able to see improvements in 4 to 6 weeks.Does red light therapy help hair growth? ›
Red light therapy is a safe, effective, and natural treatment option for hair loss that's gaining popularity with professionals and the public. Backed by a strong base of peer-reviewed clinical research, red light treatments have increased hair count, hair density, and hair thickness for men and women alike.Does red light therapy tighten jowls? ›
Answer: LED Will NOT Work for Skin Tightening
If you are looking for improvement to the neck and jowls your best bet for dramatic and lost lasting results is a surgical procedure.
Red light can only be absorbed by your skin when fully exposed. You can wear clothes during your treatment, or you can be nude. Be sure any clothing does not cover the area of the body you're treating. We recommend removing all jewelry that could refract light.Does red light therapy work for face? ›
“When used with a photosensitizer, the therapeutic effects of red light—whether it's the anti-inflammatory effects for acne or the destructive and anti-oxidative-stress effect on pre-cancerous cells—have been proven,” says Dr. Baron. Research also shows it can help with wound healing, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.Does red light therapy build collagen? ›
Across numerous clinical studies, red light therapy has shown it helps people boost their natural collagen production, without side effects. This leads to a wide range of health benefits, from younger-looking skin, to faster muscle recovery, and stronger joint and skeletal health.Does red light therapy help cellulite? ›
Exposure to light at red and near-infrared wavelengths encourages the body to detoxify and get rid of fat as well as to rebuild collagen connective tissue. Collagen is key to helping skin elasticity, which reduces the accumulation of cellulite.How long is too long for red light therapy? ›
Very Important Warning
There is a sweet spot for treatment with red light. The maximum amount of time you should expose your body to this concentrated red light is 15-20 minutes a day.
Treatment sessions can last from 15 minutes to three hours, once or twice a day, depending on individual needs and equipment used.Can red light therapy help neuropathy? ›
Overall, red light therapy can help with neuropathy pain as it stimulates healing and may promote new nerves to grow, restoring normal sensation and reducing pain. At NIVA Health, we offer red light therapy as our leading treatment for neuropathy pain through our Neuropathy Program.Does Redlight melt fat? ›
Red light therapy is also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT). It's a type of body sculpting that may help you get rid of stubborn fat. Most research shows that red light therapy removes some fat from your waist and arms, but results are modest at best.Can red light therapy reverse aging? ›
Red light therapy (RLT) aims to solve skin issues by using low wavelength red light. Many experts believe that it can help with issues such as skin conditions, scarring, and signs of aging — including wrinkles and age spots. There is some evidence to back up many of these claims, but RLT is no miracle cure.Does red light therapy cause facial hair? ›
Stimulates Hair Growth. Red light therapy isn't just for women. Men with patchy facial hair can benefit from red light therapy as well. It can help stimulate hair growth, filling in those unsightly patches.
Since red light therapy can boost circulation and collagen production, it can assist in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can tightens the skin while also improving tone and shrinking pores.Does red light therapy work for eye bags? ›
Red and Infrared Laser Therapy and LED light therapy have proven effective at eliminating puffiness around the eyes. Red 660nm monochromatic light from a laser triggers the body to produce new skin cells and collagen causing the skin around the eye to become noticeably smoother.Does red light make you look younger? ›
Red light therapy is also backed by a huge base of clinical research. Across study after study, red light treatments have improved appearance, cut down on swelling & inflammation, and helped people look younger.Should I shower after red light therapy? ›
Fine lines & wrinkles, dark circles as well as puffiness around the eyes are reduced, while the effects of environmental damage and chronological aging are minimized.It is important to Hydrate well before and after any Red Light Therapy Session. Wash skin well to remove all surface oils and irritants.Does red light therapy help macular degeneration? ›
There is some evidence from early stage clinical trials that it may benefit people with dry AMD but it is not yet a proven treatment. It is not a cure but may help to improve vision. Repeat courses of treatment may be necessary to maintain any improvement.What does red light therapy feel like? ›
I Did Red Light Therapy for 10 Days Straight - YouTubeHow many times a day can you use red light therapy? ›
You may need a treatment each week for about a month. Then you might need maintenance treatments every month or every few months. Some at-home devices may also require a substantial time commitment. You might need to use your device twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes for four to five weeks.Can you overdo red light therapy? ›
Red light therapy is generally considered safe, even though researchers aren't exactly sure how and why it works. And there are no set rules on how much light to use. Too much light may damage skin tissue, but too little might not work as well.How long does it take to see results with red light therapy? ›
The good news is that red light therapy does start helping your body from the very first session, but continued treatments help achieve more lasting results. You may see or feel minor results immediately, but the best results are typically achieved over 3-6 months if you consistently visit Sculptology for treatments.What time of day is best for infrared sun? ›
As if all those health benefits of morning sun weren't enough, it might surprise you to learn that infrared light around sunrise preconditions our skin to protect us from the UVA and UVB that comes out a bit later. Catch enough infrared light early in the morning and you're less likely to burn later in the day.
It seems that Red Light Therapy is most effective at preventing further loss, not reversing existing grey hair. That being said, the benefits of using this treatment far outweigh any potential side effects.Do you need goggles for red light therapy? ›
A: It is not required that you wear eye protection, nevertheless the lights are very bright and may be uncomfortable for some individuals with sensitivities to light.How long does it take for light therapy to be effective? ›
Start light therapy in the early morning, as soon as possible after awakening (between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.). Response usually starts in a few days, and by two weeks the symptoms should be definitely improving.What are the dangers of red light therapy? ›
Even though this type of treatment is generally very safe, negative effects may occur. As a consequence of light therapy, patients can complain of irritability, headaches, eye strain, sleep disturbances, and insomnia. Mild visual side effects are not unusual but remit promptly.Does red light therapy help hair growth? ›
Red light therapy is a safe, effective, and natural treatment option for hair loss that's gaining popularity with professionals and the public. Backed by a strong base of peer-reviewed clinical research, red light treatments have increased hair count, hair density, and hair thickness for men and women alike.Can red light therapy damage eyes? ›
Red light therapy treatments, with both red and near infrared wavelengths, aren't just safe for eyes. They're also a proven way to help heal eye injuries, reduce inflammation, and protect against vision loss, as shown in numerous peer-reviewed clinical studies.How can you tell if red light therapy is working? ›
Red light therapy has an immediate effect on the body, so you can expect to enjoy some of the benefits of PBMT right away. You might have less pain and swelling in an injured area, for example. You might also notice improvements in your mood after PBMT—you will probably sleep better too!Does red light therapy work on face? ›
After receiving red light therapy you may notice a great improvement to the look of your skin. It can be brighter, clearer and more even-toned. It can shrink your pores, reduce your wrinkles and give you a more youthful appearance.How often should I do red light therapy? ›
As long as you are following the manufacturers instructions, you can use red light therapy everyday. If you have chronic pain, it's recommended to start a daily routine with using red light therapy.Which time of the day is best for vitamin D? ›
Midday is the best time to get vitamin D, as the sun is at its highest point and your body may manufacture it most efficiently around that time of day. This means you may need less time in the sunlight at midday.
The best time to soak yourself in the sun to get the maximum vitamin D is between 10 am to 3 pm. At this time, the UVB rays are intense and it is also said that the body is more efficient in making vitamin D at this time.Is red light therapy the same as sunlight? ›
And while Red Light Therapy can be helpful to improve mood, optimize sleep and relieve minor pain, IT IS NOT a substitute for natural sunlight. For one, Red Light Therapy does not allow for the production of vitamin D.